IOWA CITY, Iowa — After submitting to a second polygraph test, the mother of one of two missing Iowa cousins said Monday the results should prove that she had nothing to do with their disappearance and allow investigators to focus their attention elsewhere.
Misty Cook-Morrissey said a state agent asked during Monday's polygraph whether she had anything to do with the abduction of her daughter, 10-year-old Lyric Cook-Morrissey, and niece, 8-year-old Elizabeth Collins. She said she was asked whether she knows where they are and if she could take investigators to them, adding she answered "no" to all those questions.
"It went well," she said in a phone interview. "They can rule me out of their book and move on to something else."
The girls have been missing since they went for a bike ride July 13 in Evansdale, a town of 4,700 people in northeast Iowa, where their bikes and a purse were found near a lake. An extensive investigation involving local, state and federal agents has failed to find them. Investigators reclassified the case as an abduction after an FBI team used sonar equipment to search the bottom of the lake and ruled out the possibility that they drowned.
FBI spokeswoman Sandy Breault said Monday that investigators want to interview a person who was paddleboating on the lake around the time the girls disappeared. She said that person, who has not voluntarily come forward, could help investigators learn what happened to the girls but was not considered a suspect.
Black Hawk County Chief Deputy Rick Abben declined comment on Cook-Morrissey's polygraph test at a news briefing but said investigators were getting better cooperation from her and her husband than last week. He offered no other new information about the 11-day search, saying only that investigators continued to chase leads.
Abben also sounded less certain than an FBI spokeswoman did Saturday when asked whether investigators believe the girls are alive.
"We certainly would like to think that. We have nothing to indicate they are not," he said. "We want to keep hopes up."
Investigators have been delving into the background of Cook-Morrissey and her estranged husband, Dan Morrissey, who have both spent time in prison on methamphetamine-related charges. The two faced additional scrutiny last week when they announced they had been advised by an attorney to stop cooperating with investigators. A judge last week ordered Morrissey to be monitored by state parole agents while he awaits trial on charges of making and dealing meth that could lock him up for decades.
The couple's temporary lack of cooperation with police caused friction with Heather and Drew Collins, Elizabeth's parents. Abben had called it a distraction in recent days and called for total cooperation.
Cook-Morrissey said she'd declined to cooperate after she was treated harshly during a polygraph test last week in which she was accused of taking the girls, but agreed Monday after investigators promised to take a different approach and allow a relative to be nearby.
Cook-Morrissey, 34, said she was told she passed Monday's test after last week's came back inconclusive. She said the examinations were stressful for her since she has anxiety disorder, which made it hard to stay calm and may have contributed to the earlier inconclusive result.
Cook-Morrissey said Monday's test and a meeting afterward with investigators over doughnuts went a long way toward easing tensions between her family and the police.
"You could say we made peace today," she said. "We looked at some pictures. We talked. It went really well. I think they are trying a lot harder than I was feeling the last few days."
Cook-Morrissey said investigators did not share any new information with her about why they believe the girls are alive, but told her they were confident the case would be resolved.
She said she also met Monday morning with the Collins' family. She called tension within the family as "very normal" in a case where relatives have fear and stress but no answers about what happened.
A spokesman for the Collins' family, Craig Ceilly, emphasized that Heather and Drew Collins have been "cooperating 300 percent from day one" with investigators as they live through what he called their worst nightmare.
"Anything they can do to help they will do and they are doing willingly. I cannot speak for Dan and Misty," he said. "I don't know what they are doing. I don't have a clue, nor do Heather and Drew. They don't want to know. All of a sudden when the media started looking at their past, it took a turn for the worse."